The 2024 Rolex 24 at Daytona was not just a showcase of contemporary speed demons; it was also a journey through automotive history. The Heritage Exhibition featured iconic cars that have left an indelible mark on the world of racing. Among these historical gems were two Corvettes that stood as proud reminders of their racing legacy. – Photo Credits Gary Rosier
1987 Chassis #001 Protofab Chevrolet Corvette – A Turbocharged Marvel
In 1987, Protofab embarked on a factory-supported effort in IMSA, unveiling the #001 Chassis, a creation of renowned designer Bob Riley. While the majority of the fleet boasted the traditional V8 engine, #001 stood apart with its unique choice – the Falconer V6 Turbo engine. This unconventional powertrain transformed the Corvette into one of the most powerful GT cars of its time.
Driven by Greg Pickett in 1987 and 1988, the car experienced a rollercoaster of success, securing poles, fast laps, and enduring setbacks. Its most notable outing was at the 1988 Rolex 24 at Daytona, with Pickett, John Johnes, and Tommy Riggins behind the wheel. Despite qualifying ninth, the journey ended prematurely at 398 laps due to an engine issue, adding another layer to its storied history.
#72 1977 Corvette – A Journey Through Generations
Originally a 1966 Corvette convertible, the #72 Corvette underwent a transformative journey in 1969 under the hands of Bill Arnold. Starting as an SCCA contender, it transitioned to IMSA in 1973. The car’s evolution continued in 1977 when it embraced the current C3 configuration, thanks to bodywork sourced from Corvette racing legend John Greenwood.
The 1977 Corvette made multiple appearances at the 24 Hours of Daytona from 1975 to 1978, driven by a lineup including Bill Arnold, Bob Bierneth, Carl Thompson, Billy Hagan, and Rusty Schmidt. Its best finish was 21st in 1975. After retiring post the 1978 Daytona race, the car found itself in storage until its revival in 1993. Restored to its 1978 Daytona appearance, the car changed hands when Bill Arnold’s son, Zach, acquired it in 2015. Now, 40 years later, Zach Arnold proudly drives the car in the Heritage Exhibition, reigniting the spirit of its last race in the 1978 24 Hours of Daytona.
Conclusion: The Heritage Exhibition at the Rolex 24 Daytona 2024 served as a captivating time capsule, bringing forth the stories of racing legends. The Corvettes on display, each with its unique tale, underscored the rich history and enduring passion that defines the world of motorsports. As we celebrate the present and future of racing, let’s not forget the incredible journey these vintage Corvettes have taken, leaving an indelible mark on the annals of automotive history.
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